Using Social Media to Engage with Customers
By Jennifer Zelinskie and Dr. Kathy Kelley
Did you log into Facebook, send a “snap” via Snapchat, post a photo on Instagram, or send out a tweet on Twitter today?
There is no doubt that social media has a presence in our daily lives. In 2017, 88% of the U.S. population had Internet access and 66% of the population actively used social media (http://bit.ly/2nCUEiC). From January 2016 to January 2017, the number of active social media users increased 21% and active mobile social users (those who use social media on their mobile devices) increased 30% (http://bit.ly/OeHf9K).
It may not surprise you that Facebook is the most widely used social media platform, but did you know that 68% of all U.S. adults use the platform? Additionally, 76% of American users visited the site daily in 2016 (http://pewrsr.ch/2nJd5Oy).
What about some of the other networks? Twenty-eight percent of all U.S. adults used Instagram, the second most “engaging” network after Facebook, and 51% of all Americans visited the site daily. Slightly fewer, 21%, of U.S. adults used Twitter, with 42% of Americans reporting that they visited the site every day (http://pewrsr.ch/2nJd5Oy). It is expected that there will be 66.6 million U.S. Snapchat users in 2017 (http://bit.ly/2nD5yVE). While the audience tends to be a little bit younger, the number of users age 25 and older grew two times faster than users under the age of 25 in 2016 (http://bit.ly/2mDL7TP).
Importance of Social Media for Business Marketing
Social media can be an effective marketing tool and wineries and tasting rooms should consider how they might include select networks into their promotional strategies. Or, if they currently have a presence – what they can do to encourage more engagement with followers. There are several benefits associated with using social media, which include:
- increasing website traffic,
- raising brand awareness,
- creating a brand identity and positive brand association, and
- “improve[ing] communication and interaction with targeted audiences,” (http://bit.ly/19OJ6KN).
Overall, social media is used to engage consumers; however, each network has its own purpose. Some of which, from an article written by Justin Scah (http://huff.to/2buWp8Y), include:
- A Facebook business page can be used to “connect with your prospective customers all around the world” and “allows for the best possible targeting…especially through Facebook Ads.”
- Twitter allows businesses to “post recent news, updates, and articles” and the number of Twitter users reached can increase significantly if others retweet your message.
- Instagram is an excellent tool for sharing photos of events held at a tasting room, your wines, the beautiful setting that surrounds your tasting room, and visitors enjoying their experience as you pour samples. It is common for businesses to host contests on Instagram. Participants post photos, based on specific criteria, and include a specified #hashtag that organizers can use to identify entries.
- YouTube, the second largest search engine, is also owned by Google so “videos are more likely to appear in search results than other websites” with video.
- Yelp allows customers to review your business and can persuade potential customers to either visit your tasting room – or decided to pass you by. This platform is “critical for businesses today” and “asking your customers to review your business prevents any negative reviews from standing out” (http://huff.to/2buWp8Y).
Social Media Use and our Mid-Atlantic Wine Consumer Survey Participants
In a March 2016 Internet survey, we included questions about social media use. We asked our participants (New Jersey, New York, and/or Pennsylvania residents who drank and purchased wine at least once the previous year) if they used social media networks and/or review sites at least once during an average month.
Of the 714 survey participants, 84% responded “yes,” and then these 600 participants were asked to select, from a list of networks and sites, which ones they actively used at least once during an average month. Based on which social media and/or review sites they selected, they were then asked to indicate if they used the particular network(s) and site(s) to engage with and/or learn about wineries and/or tasting rooms (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Percentage of survey participants who used social media and/or review sites at least once a month and, based on the networks and sites they used, the percentage of these participants who used each to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms
An earlier survey, conducted by former graduate student Abby Miller in September 2013, asked wine drinkers and purchasers in the three states to select which social media outlets they “felt were mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement to connect with customers” (Figure 2) (Miller, 2015). Additionally, participants were asked to select which social networks they used to connect with companies. Although the survey did not include as many options as the March 2016 survey, and we most likely had a different pool of consumers participate in each survey, it does provide insight as to which networks survey participants felt were important for wineries and tasting rooms to use to engage with them.
Figure 2. Social media networks that 2013 survey participants: 1) felt were mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 2) they used to connect with companies
Also, when compared to the 2016 survey data, you will notice that the percentage of participants who used the networks to engage with and/or learn from wineries and tasting rooms was greater than the percentage of the 2013 participants who used the select networks to connect with companies.
- Facebook: In 2013, 55.4% of survey participants felt that Facebook was mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 26.9% used Facebook to connect with companies.
- In 2016, the majority of participants who used social media (94%) used Facebook at least once a month and 64.5% of these participants used the platform to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
- Twitter: 18.7% of participants in 2013 felt Twitter was mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 12.8% used the network to connect with companies.
- Slightly less than half of 2016 participants, 44.2%, used the network and 35.6% of these participants used the network to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
- YouTube: 17.3% felt it was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement and 10.9% used the site to connect with companies.
- Over half of the 2016 participants, 66.5%, used YouTube and 31.7% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
- Pinterest: in 2013, 12% felt it was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement a Pinterest account and 6.6% of participants used it to connect with companies.
- In 2016, 39.9% of participants used Pinterest at least once a month and 34.5% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
- Instagram: Only 10.4% of participants in 2013 felt Instagram was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement and 6.4% used Instagram to connect with companies.
- In 2016, 45.7% of participants used Instagram at least once a month and 41.4% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
Tips for Creating Social Media Networks for Your Winery and/or Tasting Room and How to Increase Engagement
Based on the data presented above, it is evident that our survey participants used certain social media networks and review sites to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms. The number of social networks and review sites can be intimidating, especially when choosing which networks to invest the time and effort needed to successfully engage with followers.
Here are some tips to help you create an engaging social media presence:
- Posts with videos and photos are more engaging than posts with just text (especially for Facebook and Twitter) (http://bit.ly/2iFFBBe).
- The Facebook News Feed algorithm recently changed and text-only status updates will now need to include an embedded link. The link needs to be mobile friendly and of “good” quality, which is based on how long Facebook users remain on the “linked” site. The longer a user spends “reading an article away from Facebook” the “higher” the link quality (http://ly/2mDvjQU).
- Be sure to use social media to engage followers in a “two-way conversation” by commenting on their posts, asking them questions, and answering the questions they post.
- Contests, promotions, and offering prizes and discounts is an effective way to generate interest and engagement – especially if participants have to post an image or comment on a post in order to be considered for a prize. Also, include offers that either need to be redeemed in the tasting room or require consumers to follow to receive offers or gain access to a special event.
- Always add links on your website, business cards, and tasting room displays that lead to your social media accounts.
- Don’t publish the exact same post to each of your accounts. Create unique posts for each social media account to motivate consumers to follow your business on more than one network.
- Follow your competition to learn how they are interacting with wine consumers and how many likes/shares/etc. their posts generate.
- Mention complementary businesses in your posts to build important linkages and increase the number of social media users who see your message and learn about your wines and tasting room experience (http://bit.ly/2nwUhBS).
It is important to remember that social media “is about building trust as well as relationships – and that comes from not selling” (Dave Brookes, Sales and Marketing Department, Teusner Wines, http://bit.ly/2nDgCSm). This is why, no matter which platform(s) you use for your business, your overall goal should be to “connect” with your followers and provide information that will help them enjoy wine.
To determine which social media networks you should have an active presence, ask your customers and tasting room visitors:
- If they use social media and, if yes, which accounts they use,
- which ones they use to follow businesses and which they would prefer to use to connect with your business, and
- what information they would like you to share on via social media (e.g., new wines, promotions, events, pairings, and recipes).
Once you’ve developed your social media presence, analyze each network to learn if your followers find you posts engaging. This can be done through documenting clicks, likes, shares, comments, retweets, coupon use, tasting room visits, etc. A more thorough way of investigating engagement is through network-specific tools such as Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights, and YouTube stats. There are also multiple social media analytics tools, both free and paid, that compile all your platform engagement stats into one report (e.g., Hootsuite, Klout, Simply Measured) (http://bit.ly/2ee4Sg4). These and other tools can be easily found on the Intent by searching for “Social Media Analytics Tools.” We hope you are encouraged to grow your business’s social media presence and engage with your customers. We will continue to share ideas and examples to help you with this important task!
Miller, A.L. Developing Wine Marketing Strategies for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Thesis. The Pennsylvania State University, 2015.